BOYNTON BEACH — A united front is what residents in Boynton Beach are hoping will bring the community together and help stem a wave of violence. Boynton United, an organization working toward that goal, is sponsoring “Hands Around Boynton,” 8 a.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Ocean Avenue Amphitheatre, 129 E. Ocean Ave., Boynton Beach.
The event will seek to highlight the positive effects of nonviolent resolution of disputes, as well as promote healthy lifestyle choices.
“Diverse groups will come together as one with the same purpose – to celebrate nonviolence,” Boynton United said in a statement. In the wake of the tragedies that surround us, Boynton Beach and Boynton United will show our citizens that we are united to bury the violence.”
Boynton United, formerly known as Boynton United 2 Bury The Violence, was established in February 2012 in response to the killing of two sisters in a home invasion. Its April 27 event, which will be preceded by a candlelight vigil, will focus on promoting nonviolence, health and wellness, and mental health awareness, Boynton United founder Rae Whitely said.
“We want to bring awareness to a problem of violence in the community. We have a common problem (throughout the county),” he said.
Whitely said that, according to Boynton Beach Police Chief Matthew Immler, violent crimes in Boynton Beach have decreased 20 percent since this time last year.
Immler said support from the community is helping with efforts to decrease violence.
“We appreciate the efforts of groups like ‘Boynton United’ to rally the community and present a unified front against violence in the city,” he said.
But although Boynton Beach’s crime rates are the lowest they have been since 2004, according to police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater, the city has experienced a recent spate of high-profile violent crimes.
In 2012, a woman was set on fire at a convenience store by a former boyfriend, an alleged bank robber who exchanged gunfire with Boynton Beach police officers was killed and the two sisters were slain in their home.
Daphne Clemons, 41, and Janice Rahming, 54, were shot during the invasion of their home in the 1600 block of Northeast Second Court.
Immler said the slayings were most likely in retaliation for an earlier shooting. In June last year, alleged bank robber Calvin Wallace, 52, was shot and killed after he fired shots at officers Chris Munro and Eric Reynolds. Reynolds was shot in the foot by Wallace during the exchange.
That same month, Naomie Breton, 33, was allegedly set ablaze by her estranged boyfriend, Roosevelt Mondesir, 52, when she went to pick up their 4-year-old son at a Boynton Beach 7-Eleven. She survived the attack which police said was caught on a convenience store security camera.
Whitely said while the efforts of Boynton United have made a positive impact on crime in the area, longterm crime prevention will take time.
“Crime didn’t happen overnight and it’s not going to go down significantly overnight,” he said. Boynton United is looking for social service vendors such as organizations dealing with health and wellness, the elderly, teens, substance abuse and legal issues, as well as volunteers, for “Hands Around Boynton.”
For information, call Rae Whitely at 561-523-2286.
*Pictured above are members of Boynton United aduring a 2012 anit-violence march.